Canada’s supply management system must remain off the table during North American Free Trade Agreement talks, according to the country’s former minister of international trade.
Abbotsford MP Ed Fast said Canada, led by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, must hold fast to its market controls on dairy, poultry and eggs, as NAFTA negotiations continue with the U.S. and Mexico.
He said supply management puts farmers in the Fraser Valley and across Canada on a level playing field with their international counterparts. Without the market controls, they would be unable to compete with farmers in the U.S. and European union who enjoy subsidies and market controls of their own, he said.
“In the world of trade, there’s so much cheating that goes on and unfair competition that there is no argument, there is no sense for Canada to sacrifice its system of supply management no matter what the United States offers in return,” he said.
Fast – who remains his party’s environment critic – said he questions the Liberal party’s commitment to supply management after seeing them appoint former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney as a special envoy to President Donald Trump’s administration.
Mulroney has been an outspoken critic of the system. Fast said past statements by Liberal caucus members might suggest a less than steadfast commitment to supply management.
The Conservatives have their own anti-supply management contingent, with Maxime Bernier finishing second-place in this year’s Conservative leadership race. But Fast said his performance doesn’t suggest a large contingent of the party supported his proposal to kill supply management. He said Bernier was a popular second- or third-choice candidate among party members, who voted in a ranked-ballot system, due to a host of libertarian views, including his desire to privatize health care.